AD- This post is in collaboration with VELUX, read on to find out how I am working with them over the next year- all content and opinions are entirely my own though.
Without a doubt the best thing we have done since we moved into our house almost exactly two years ago is replace the existing PVC old fashioned conservatory that was here before, with a modern, glass warm roofed extension with bifold doors. It has completely transformed the way in which we live in our home, it has made a pretty impractical room (that went freezing cold in the winter and boiling hot in the summer), to a space that we use all year round.
We knew as soon as we even put an offer in on the house that we would change the conservatory. It wasn’t our style at all and we had done a similar project on our old house (although this was a lean to style warm roof extension). We had been in our old house eight years and made a little money equity wise so we decided to keep that back (and get a bigger mortgage) to cover the costs of starting the new extension pretty much straight away.
Work started on it in the September (after we moved in June) and the building work was pretty much finished by December. It wasn’t actually a big project particularly but we got held up by a few different things which made it a little slower than we originally thought. Our extension post is now easily my most pinned blog post on Pinterest, the blog post that brings the most search traffic to my site, and I get questions about it every single day over on instagram. It’s transformed the way we live. In fact as I sit here writing this I am sat on the sofa, it’s a sunny day so I have got the bifold doors open and the VELUX windows open too. It’s such a beautiful space and I am so proud of it.
If you have been following my blog and social media for a while you will know that I have always been a huge fan of interiors. Renovating our house is probably one of my biggest passions and I am loving every single minute of renovating it from top to bottom. We have done a lot since we moved in, but in terms of major projects the biggest has definitely been the extension and then we also have done our master bathroom a couple of months ago too. Other than that it has mainly been decorative work, or mini projects, although we did also replace all the previous wooden windows that were there with modern grey ones (our survey flagged up that the windows were reaching the end of their life and rotting so we got some money off the sale in order to do this). We have still got a lot of big projects we want to do to the house in the future too, including the kitchen, a garage conversion, possible loft conversion and the en suite bathroom and clock room. This is a house that we pretty much plan on living forever (as much as you can say anything is forever).
I am loving documenting our house renovations and my love of interiors on social media, here and You Tube. I even have a home instagram account now which I am thoroughly enjoying posting on (probably even more so than my main account!), so when VELUX got in touch with me to see if I wanted to work on a very special project over the next year I jumped at the chance.
I am sure you have all heard of VELUX before, but for more than 70 years, the VELUX Group has created better living environments for people around the world making windows that are inspired on daylight and fresh air. We have used VELUX roof windows independently in both our extensions and after tagging them in social posts over the years, they got in touch with me to see if I would like to work with them on an ongoing project over the next few months.
I am so excited to be a brand ambassador for VELUX. Their roof windows have made such a huge difference to our home. In fact one of the first things that friends or indeed anyone who comes into our home for the first time says is how light and bright it is. We have really high ceilings and our windows are really big, but the absolute star of the show in our home is our modern conservatory, and the way the sun shines through the VELUX roof windows, and just makes the whole house bright and airy.
VELUX are inspired by creating better living environments, about transforming the way you live and indeed by using their windows that has exactly what has happened to us. Over the next few months I am going to be working with them on creating lots of different content- from videos, to social posts, to blog posts, talking about just how VELUX roof windows have helped transform our home and also about how we can further transform it in the future. I am really excited to be working with them, as they have given me a lot of creativity and free reign into the content I produce- and working on a natural and creative set of content with a brand is the dream. The fact it is about interiors is even better.
I thought I would start by sharing both of our projects that we have done so far, using VELUX roof windows to transform our home….
OLD HOUSE EXTENSION
This is our previous home and the extension as it was being built. You can see we opted for a full set of bifold doors and then two VELUX roof windows to let in lots of light and bring the outside in.
Look at all that light! It was just a stunning extension and totally transformed our house.
From the outside with the bifold doors open.
This large gap is where the external doors were to our garden, we knocked through and added the extension to the back of our house. It was the best thing we ever did and I wish we had done it sooner, we moved the next year! But we lived in the house for eight years in total.
NEW HOUSE EXTENSION
This was the old fashioned conservatory on our current house. It was one of those ones that get very hot in summer and cold in winter and was also quite an awkward space.
The inside previously.
Our beautiful extension now. We love it so much and it lets in so much light. It is always bright in here even on the most dark and gloomy day.
The extension has completely transformed the way we live. It has given us an extra room that the kids sit in all the time, meaning our living room has become a more adult only space. Having the VELUX roof windows and the bifold doors mean that it has become an extension of outside.
We have VELUX INTEGRA solar roof windows meaning we can operate them electronically. I will talk more about these in other posts, but basically it means we can control all sorts of different elements of our windows.
Look at that sunshine peeking through!
I am so excited to be working with VELUX and can’t wait to share it all with you the next few months.
If you have been following me a very long time you may remember that in 2014 (after having Lottie and before getting pregnant with Wren in 2016), I became obsessed with running. I am someone who isn’t a natural born exerciser, I would be the one forging my mum’s signature so I didn’t have to do PE a school, or signing up to swanky gym memberships at uni where I then went once for the induction and then never again.
But I was feeling sluggish and had put on a bit of weight since having Lottie so I decided to go to the gym with my sister. Being the cliches that we are joined the gym late December, and went to go for our first session on New Years Day (oh hey January fitness starters!), only to find the gym was shut because most normal fitness people are giving themselves a break. Because we had done the hardest part of actually getting motivated to get into our gym gear, we decided to go for a run. Anna hated every second of it, but I found I actually really liked running. Which believe me was a shock for us all!
And that was how it started. I became obsessed with running. I am naturally quite a competitive person so Jon bought me a running watch for my birthday in March 2014 and I loved trying to beat my times. I signed up to some races to keep me motivated, a 10k in the June, a half marathon in the July and a half marathon in the October (I also did my last one the following March too). While of course there were periods and weeks where I didn’t run and I lost motivation, for the most part it became a regular part of my life and I loved it all (except the actual running part!).
Somewhere along the way though I just lost it. I lost the love for it. I ended up losing too much weight, partly from this weird obsession I had with liking the control of counting calories, plus running and burning too many, and partly because I went through a period of having really bad tummy problems. It was the strangest thing and I still get it every now and again now, but I am talking very rarely. I would get cramps, an upset tummy and feel sick- it was like extreme IBS. I’ve included some photos so you can get an idea, looking back on these actually makes me feel so sad. That I thought that having legs that thin was a good thing. I never want to get like that again. I want to stress though that it was not running that made me lose weight like this. Of course running, or indeed any exercise, can make you lose weight. But I got like this from having tummy problems, exercising and having a very unhealthy obsession with watching what I ate and counting calories.
I never want to get like this again and it makes me so sad to look back on these photos. This is for another post, but I quickly wanted to say how much I love the body image positivity movement that seems to be happening on instagram at the moment. That is what I want for my children. Feeling, happy and healthy and content with their bodies, with a balanced diet and exercising to be healthy and feel good.
I then got pregnant with Wren and was far too busy with life with three children to think about exercise. But I deep down have always missed it, I have always missed that buzz of running. Of having something for me, of getting out there and clearing my mind, of having some me time, and of just enjoying the head space that running gave me. As exercise isn’t purely a physical thing, it’s definitely a mental thing too. I have tried a few times over the last couple of years to get into running again but something just hasn’t clicked for me, and I just haven’t enjoyed it like I once did.
Since January this year (hello cliche again!) I have been exercising more. Not to lose weight (although inevitably I have a little in the beginning). But to be healthy, to help my mind, and to feel good about myself. I am still eating what I want, but also trying to be healthy as well (I am an all or nothing person sometimes when it comes to exercise and healthy eating so I am trying to get the balance right). I have been doing a mixture of at home workouts, running or walking with friends, or the odd gym session (as we have a couple membership that Jon pretty much is the only one who uses it!)
A couple of weeks ago I decided to take the running up a notch and I am loving it. I am loving getting back into it and something feels different this time. I am loving every minute. I have never done couch to 5k but I have been doing my sort of version of it, and I am up to running a slow 5k without stopping (although occasionally I stop and walk if I am feeling tired). I am feeling good and more importantly it is doing wonders for my mind and well being.
I asked on instagram the other day whether people would like to hear more about my running journey this time, and I think something like 84% said they would. While I am not going to mention every run as that will soon get boring, I am going to document it on here, you tube and instagram (just like I did last time) as I know watching other people’s running really inspired my own.
So today’s post is just a little background into my running history, I’ve actually really enjoyed writing this blog post (I miss my blog!) like the good old days.
My goals for this month running wise are-
To try and run 5 miles (like I said I am up to a 5k which is about 3.13 miles I think?)
To try and run three times a week
And to try for a sub 30 minute 5k (fastest to date is 31.07) (I know some people aren’t interested in recording their times and it’s not about competing with anyone else, it’s mainly for me cause I enjoy this side of things)
PS Just in the interests of transparency, I took these photos (or rather Jon did!) last week for a campaign on instagram I was doing with Next and Adidas. I haven’t been paid to put them on my blog, but I just really liked the photos and thought they went perfectly!
Do you like running or are planning to get into it? Would love to know in the comments- we can all motivate each other!
It has taken me a long time to sit down and write this post, but I have had quite a few instagram messages requesting it so I thought now was the time to just get it written. I must admit I am finding the balance between knowing which content I should create hard. Should I concentrate on You Tube? Instagram? My blog? At the moment the other two just naturally seem to be taking a priority, but at the same time I have so many posts I want to write on here and this blog will always be my first love.
Like I mentioned one question I get messages about quite a bit on instagram is tips for taking kids to NYC. NYC is an iconic destination to visit, but it is also one that does require a little planning to get the best out of your trip. I must admit before we went I was unsure as to what New York would be like for a family of 5 with three young children. We were so pleasantly surprised, it was one of the best places we have ever been as a family and it was so family friendly. So I thought I would write a post full of tips for planning a trip to NYC with children…
WHEN TO VISIT
I’ve been lucky enough to visit NYC three times now, twice before I had my children. The first time I went, I went in April and the weather was mild and pleasant. I then went in February and it was absolutely freezing, it snowed and I just was really inappropriately dressed. I have never felt cold like it and of course a lot of the fun of the Big Apple is to just walk around and take it all in. When we went with the children last year we went in May half term and the weather was glorious. We had some cooler days (but never needed to wear a coat), and some days where the sun shone all day and it was really warm. It was just lovely, not too hot but mild enough to wander around, sit in Central Park for hours, and just generally enjoy it without feeling uncomfortable.
Christmas is peak time in NYC and as such flights and accommodation will be expensive, but at the same time you get to visit the city lit up for the holiday season. January is a good time to visit if you pack appropriate clothing and are prepared for it to be COLD, but you also get good discounts at this time of year. Spring is a lovely time and the city comes alive during this time, plus there are deals to be had if you search out of holiday times. Summer is great and there is loads going on around the city, including some great free events, but it can also be an expensive time for flights and accommodation. It can get stifling hot and it is always really busy with crowds. You can get some great deals in September and October, and it is a really nice time to visit the city.
We obviously had to time our trip with school holidays, so we chose May half term when US kids were still at school, and the crowds weren’t too crazy at all.
Flights to NYC can be expensive, but also because there are so many flights in-between NYC and the UK each day, you can get deals if you shop around. We actually booked our flights in the British Airways Boxing Day sale and I can really recommend looking on there- they do a couple of sales a year and we have booked a few heavily discounted flights that way. From memory we ended up getting return flights for our family of 5 for £1600, that’s altogether not each, which while is still a lot of money, is such a low price for 5 return flights across the Atlantic.
There are other flight comparison sites I use from time to time, such as Skyscanner (you can submit a date and destination and it tells you the cheapest flights available), this is also useful if you aren’t fussed about flying direct as you can get some good deals.
We also really like an app on your phone called Hopper, which works by predicting prices and therefore helps you book your accomodation and flights at exactly the right time. I think like with all these things you have to take the info they give you and use your own judgement, I recommend really watching the flights over a period of a few weeks to see how they fluctuate.
Technically speaking we find that the earlier in advance you can book the flights the better, we have have got great deals by booking almost as soon as the seats get issued. But if you can’t book that far in advance, around 2-3 months in advance always seems to have good deals. You can get good deals waiting till last minute, but with children that isn’t really feasible. Generally the cheapest months to book flights are January and August.
There are thousands upon thousands of hotel rooms available in NYC and booking family friendly accommodation can be a bit daunting. We started off by decided what area we wanted to be in for our week long stay. NYC is split into a few main areas of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island.
Most tourists want to stay in Manhattan, this is where most of the tourist attractions are and is the NYC we see on films and on tv. But Manhattan itself has different areas, each of them vast and with so many hotel rooms.
When booking a hotel room I will start off looking at a site like booking.com (I used to work here for years so I am loyal to it!), to give me a vague idea of what is out there. From there I then go on to individual hotel websites, just so I get a better feel for each destination, and I will look on sites like trip advisor to see what people are saying (bear in mind to take them with a pinch of salt though). I also look at bloggers/instagrammers who I admire and see if they have stayed in the destination I am thinking of. Hotel websites like booking.com ‘should’ have rate parity- ie they should be under agreement with the hotel that they will advertise the same rates across all the sites they are advertising on, including their own hotel website, but in all honesty it is always worth checking the hotels own website as sometimes they are sneaky and will do cheaper deals on their own site.
It’s also worth looking at airbnb, while we didn’t stay in an airbnb during our time in NYC we love airbnb and use it regularly for other trips. I think it is the perfect way of travelling and feeling like a local.
WHERE WE STAYED
We decided that we wanted to change hotel during our trip and stay 4 nights in Manhattan and 3 nights in Brooklyn, just because we wanted to experience the more local, less touristy side to NYC as well. We knew we wanted to stay in Manhattan but didn’t want to stay in the touristy areas of Times Square etc, where room sizes are smaller (not great for a family of 5 as NYC rooms are small as it is).
I researched areas before we went and decided that the Battery Park area of the city looked good for us. It’s a quiet area, mostly financial, but with some great open spaces to run around in, plus only a 20 minute or so taxi or subway ride up to the main tourist areas. I found the Conrad New York and immediately was attracted to it for it’s location, just a few minute walk from the 9/11 memorial and the new Westfield shopping centre that has opened, plus not too far from the Staten Island Ferry and other parts of Battery Park we wanted to explore.
We really liked the Conrad New York, it was quite corporate but that suited us just fine as it meant we came and went without being bothered. It’s in a fantastic location, just near some lovely big green open spaces, and in fact there is a fantastic kids playground practically right outside the front of the hotel. It was a quiet area, with loads of parks for the kids to run around in and it was really easy to get around to other areas of the city. We would definitely stay there again.
When we stayed in Brooklyn we stayed at the Box House Hotel, which is actually classed as an area called Green Point, a quite up and coming area close to Williamsburg (a very hip cool area which has gone through a massive process of gentrification the last few years). The hotel was fantastic, really cool and quirky, with huge, stylish split level rooms (at least our suite was), but the only thing I would say if you consider booking it is that it is quite far away from the main Brooklyn area of DUMBO etc. We walked into Williamsburg itself a couple times and that took about half an hour, but DUMBO is a good 20 minute taxi ride away.
Still we really enjoyed our stay there and would definitely stay again, but it is just something to bear in mind if you think about booking.
We had been a little daunted about the prospect of getting around NYC with three small children. Turns out it was much easier than expected. We actually ended up mostly walking, the city is so cool and amazing that you want to take every little aspect in. We would cover miles and miles each day.
We also jumped on the Subway, if anything for the experience, and found it quite easy to navigate. I also felt really safe on there too.
But for the most part we actually just ended up hailing cabs or using an Uber to get to different destinations, as both were quite affordable. If you haven’t used Uber before I really recommend it, we use it pretty much in every city we go. You download the app, sign up and then from the app can therefore book drivers. It is affordable, convenient and great because it means that you don’t have to carry cash around as you store your details and the money comes straight from your account. With Uber you can request a large vehicle if you are part of a bigger family. The iconic yellow NYC cabs were really quite easy to flag down and were a little bit more than Uber’s but still pretty reasonable.
Kids wise if your child is a toddler or baby I would definitely invest in a carrier. I carried Wren on my back the entire time we were walking around and it was so easy. You can rent them from local sling libraries if you don’t want to buy one yourself, or perhaps borrow one off a friend. It really felt like he was part of the action walking around rather than stuck in his buggy.
I also get a fair few messages on instagram asking about the deal with car seats and taxis and Ubers. We never bring our own car seats with us. If you are getting transfers from the airport (we booked airport transfers with Attraction Tickets Direct just so we knew we were getting car seats), then you can request car seats for children. But in terms of every day taxi use for short distances we just let Wren sit on our lap or on a seat without a car seat. Obviously this is down to personal preference and some people might not be comfortable doing it, but we felt comfortable just for short distances as NYC is such a grid locked city we never went very fast.
TIPS FOR PLANNING YOUR ITINERARY
The one thing I can stress when going to NYC is to at least have some sort of rough plan before you travel. It is a vast city, full of amazing things to do, and you are going to want to at least plan a little bit.
My main tips would be…
Look at all the main attractions and things you want to do and then split them into areas, e.g Central Park/Times Square/Top of the Rock one day, Battery Park/Statue of Liberty/Staten Island another, Chelsea/Soho/Greenwich another etc depending on how long you are in the city for.
Then plan a basic itinerary for each day, it doesn’t have to be set in stone but is good to know at least what area to concentrate on.
I always turn to my favourite bloggers and instagrammers for inspiration on what to do, I will look up my favourite people and see if they have been to the place I am going before as I find those kind of suggestions really helpful. A lot of people will save travel tips to their highlights or write specific blog posts. I also love Time Out and You Tube.
If I am scrolling on instagram before our trip I always make sure I save posts to a collection as it means then they are easily accessible when I am on the trip. I get so much inspiration for our trips from instagram.
I really recommend getting a tourist pass. We got New York Explorer Pass Tickets from Attraction Tickets Direct. I am always a bit sceptical about these things and whether we will get the use out of them, but in a city like NYC I think they are a must. They make things a lot more convenient, you buy the pass for a certain amount of attractions and then you can use them on a huge list of attractions available. In many cases you can go in special lines or skip the queues too. As NYC is such a touristy city we just found that we were wanting to visit a lot of the tourist attractions, such as Top of the Rock, the 9/11 Museum and Memorial, and a hop on/hop off bus tour.
WHAT WE DID
I wanted to dedicate a segment to sharing what we did while we were there. We found the perfect mixture of things to do that were family friendly and great fun and I have written some guides and done a few travel guide videos that might help you when planning your NYC trip.
First up I put a lot of photos on instagram while we were there. Check out #theellisonsnyc to get an idea of what we did. What’s great about the Instagram posts is lots of people have commented below saying their tips too.
Next up I did a few travel guide style videos of our time there.
NEW YORK TRAVEL GUIDE WITH KIDS- PART 1- MANHATTAN - YouTube
NEW YORK TRAVEL GUIDE WITH KIDS- PART 2- OTHER PARTS OF MANHATTAN - YouTube
NEW YORK TRAVEL GUIDE WITH KIDS- BROOKLYN - YouTube
(Please note that just in order to be completely transparent we worked with soak.com for part of our bathroom renovation and therefore they gifted us the white goods in exchange for content on my blog, you tube and social media. We weren’t paid any extra on top of this and all opinions are my own)
It’s been a long time since I popped up a renovation update post here on my blog. I still have a few rooms that I haven’t taken photos of or created blog posts about, including the dining room, lounge, our bedroom etc. I have done room tours of these over on You Tube (you can find my interior playlist here) but I really need to get a move on and write blog posts before they become so old I start redecorating them again!
Today though I have a special project I want to share with you all- our family bathroom renovation. This was started way back in October and only finished a few short weeks ago. It wasn’t particularly that the renovation took that long, it was mainly due to a number of different aspects- the plumber fitting us in around other jobs, waiting on a specific shower door screen to be delivered etc. There were long periods of time where no work was taking place and we were just waiting around. But it is done now and we absolutely love it.
I should probably start by sharing with you some before photos. When we moved into our house well over a year and a half ago now, there was no doubt that we would get round to replacing the bathrooms eventually. We bought the house as a complete renovation project so it was just a matter of time before we changed them. Our house is about 17 years old, so quite modern in terms of a property, but honestly it really was dated inside.
The previous owners hadn’t touched the bathrooms since they moved in and as a result they were getting tired, a bit shabby around the edges, and above all they just weren’t our style. We could have lived with them for a few more years, they weren’t offensive, but they were always going to be something we tackled at some point. Jon actually had a really good few months of work as he had quite a large contract extended, so we decided to bring forward our plans and get the family bathroom renovated sooner than we originally thought.
WHAT WAS OUR VISION AT THE BEGINNING OF THE RENOVATION?
Keep the walk in shower– Our family bathroom isn’t a large space, it is about 2 metres squared. We didn’t particularly have any massive requirements at the beginning of the project, bar we wanted to keep the shower. Behind the door on the right hand side is quite a narrow but practical walk in shower that we use a lot, so we wanted to make sure we kept that.
Patterned floor tiles– I really wanted some patterned floor tiles, but looking on Pinterest and Instagram could only see ones that suited period style homes. This was a must for me as we had vinyl in our old previous home and while it was fine, I really wanted some cool patterned tiles in our new family bathroom.
Free standing bath– It sounds silly but for such a long time, years in fact, I have always had this little goal in my head that one day we would have a freestanding bath. I have no idea why it is just something I have always wanted, I love the look of them. I really wanted to get a free standing bath in our new renovation, but I was also realistic that it was only a small space.
Light and bright– Other than the above the only other real requirement we had for our space was that it was light and bright. As it was quite a small space the previous bathroom did look quite dingy at times, so I wanted to make it feel bright and light. I also wanted to put an effort into the styling and make sure that there were lots of things on the wall to at the same time make it feel cosy but stylish.
WHAT WEREN’T WE FUSSED ABOUT
Lots of storage– Although this is our family bathroom, we actually spend more time in our en suite. (that currently hasn’t been renovated) The kids also spend most of their time there, we all brush our teeth in there etc. While I am aware the girls especially will get bigger and want their own space in years to come, we weren’t too fussed about storage. We aren’t a family who has loads of lotions and potions anyway (we are quite minimalist in that respect) and we also have a big airing cupboard right next door on our landing where we keep a lot of stuff like toilet brushes, toiletries etc. Therefore loads of storage wasn’t something we particularly needed, in fact I find the more storage I have the more likely I am to clutter it up with things I don’t really need.
A towel rail- I have had a couple of people ask me on instagram why we decided to leave out a towel rail. We always planned to do this, I find them quite unattractive (although you can get some nice ones nowadays) and they take up a lot of space. We had a towel rail in the existing bathroom that in the whole year and a half we have lived here we have never turned on. Our house is really great when it comes to heating, and we keep all our towels in the airing cupboard. Therefore factoring out a towel rail would help save money and also space.
A slightly different post from me today but I thought it might be something that some of you might be interested in if you travel so I thought I would share. Please note that this post is not sponsored in any way, I just wanted to share the charity as I have been doing a lot of research into sustainable travel over the last few months. I really am trying to write more regularly on this blog again this year, especially about topics which interest me.
Travelling is our passion but what about the environment?
Like many people we are trying to do more we can to help the environment. This might be something as simple as recycling more, eating less meat based meals, or walking as much as we can instead of driving (all things we are trying to do more of this year). There is one thing however that does makes us feel guilty and at at a bit of a dilemma when it comes to being more greener, and that is travel. If you have been following me on social media, or this blog, for a long time you will know that travelling is our family passion. If I could I would pack our bags tomorrow and travel the world, but firstly I’m a bit of a home bird at heart and secondly I don’t think our bank balance would allow it.
But we do travel as much as we can and we are incredibly lucky that over the past few years we have been given some amazing travel opportunities as a result of my blog and social media. It’s in my blood I swear, my Grandparents have travelled the world (and still do in their 80’s), although my Mum isn’t as fussed. But I adore travelling, seeing the world, and we have already passed that sense of adventure down to our children.
I think travelling is such a positive experience for children and I could talk for ages about why I think seeing other parts of the world and different cultures is so beneficial to them. But at the same time every time we set foot on a plane we are increasing our family carbon footprint. Yes there is the argument that these planes would fly regardless of whether our family were on them. But if everyone thought like that what changes would we ever make?
For a long while now I have been thinking about how we can reduce the impact we have when we fly, while also teaching our children that it is important to have an awareness of the world we live in and the way we are potentially leaving it for future generations. We are taking small steps as a family but ultimately plane travel does have an impact on our environment. So how can I stop my slight feeling of guilt over the fact we do go on a fair few planes, while also continuing to show our children the world (while we are fortunate enough to be able to do so)? The answer is our little grove of trees. But more about that later…
Carbon isn’t just about flights…
Did you know that a return flight from London to NYC releases just shy of one tonne of carbon into the environment for each passenger on board?
Personally I find those figures crazy. But it’s not just flights, there are so many things that we do that increase our carbon footprint, from our daily commute, heating our homes, to the food we eat. According to the Woodland Trust the 11.5 billion sandwiches that are eaten in the UK each year are estimated to be responsible for a greater carbon output than eight million cars. And it’s these silent and invisible emissions that are one of the main factors that are contributing to climate change across the world. This is because Carbon is a greenhouse gas, which means that it traps the sun’s energy in the Earth’s atmosphere. The more carbon that is released into the atmosphere the more energy that is trapped leading to a higher overall global temperature.
Small steps can make a difference
Like I said above it is easy to say that flights would be running regardless of whether our family get on them, or that plastic bags are still going to be produced by supermarkets regardless of whether we bring a reusable one in with us. I hold up my hands and say that as a family we still have a long way to go in regards to certain things. But we are trying to do small steps. Some things that you can do are-
Don’t drive and take public transport or walk wherever possible. This is great within reason but we live in the middle of nowhere and we have to drive to school. However I am trying to walk as much as I can.
Cut down on meat based meals. We are not at a stage where we want to cut out meat completely, but since January we are trying to eat more veggie based meals, I have pretty much completely cut out meat at lunchtimes and we have substituted at least two or three meat based meals a week for vegetarian ones. It’s good for our health and for the environment.
Stick to direct flights to your destination. (take-off and landing do the most damage), although I know that these can be the cheaper option.
Use reusable water bottles and coffee cups. I bought Jon a really nice reusable coffee cup for Christmas, and I take my water bottle with me everywhere now, although I am still guilty of enjoying a fizzy drink from a bottle as I prefer them to a can. I try and buy glass bottle fizzy drinks where I can, although these are a lot more expensive.
Do things at home– we are learning more and more about recycling, we for the most part use energy-saving lightbulbs, or you could do things like use a menstrual cup (I must admit I don’t yet do this), or use less wipes (another thing I am guilty of using too much).
Back to flying- how can you calculate your carbon footprint?
First things first you can calculate your carbon footprint (although it’s quite scary stuff). This is just one website I found (carbonfootprint.com) where you can just find out your footprint for flying, or you can also find it for your household, your car, your commute etc too. I am choosing to only concentrate on our flight carbon footprint for now. (I have put the flight calculator at the bottom of this post)
So as an example when we flew to Orlando in October last year, using this calculator I have worked out that just for me my footprint was approximately 1.2 tonnes of CO2. Just for me. For one long haul return flight. That’s therefore 6 tonnes of CO2 just for one flight as a family.
But what are we doing to reduce our Carbon Footprint?
Firstly I should probably say, do I think the small measures we are taking as a family in any way make up for the flights we take and the damage we do to our environment every day in other ways? No not at all.
But to me I feel like it is better than doing nothing and it’s about taking small steps and educating ourselves further.
I first started researching what we could do to help a few months ago and one way was donating to plant new trees. I had a look at a few websites, including the Woodland Trust and others, who all have regular ways of donating and therefore offsetting your carbon footprint. I eventually decided on ‘Trees for Life’ because I really liked the fact that you can set up your own grove of trees. To me this felt a little more special than just donating and not knowing, it is something we can follow as a family.
Trees for Life is a charity based up in the Caledonian Forest in Scotland. The core purpose and vision of Trees for Life is to restore the Caledonian Forest and all its constituent species of flora and fauna to the Scottish Highlands.
There was a part of me when I was researching that wondered whether I should pick a tree planting charity based in England as of course that is where we are based, but I decided that to be honest it doesn’t matter where it is as long as we are trying to do what we can. I really liked what Trees for Life stood for and like I said above I really liked that you could plant a family grove of trees.
Trees for Life have calculated that around 6 trees will offset 1 tonne of CO2. That means that approximately for each return flight we do (this is long haul short haul will be different) for a family of 5 we would need to plant 36 trees in order to offset our carbon footprint. Personally I find that absolutely crazy.
What is a family Grove of trees- and how do the trees get planted?
Like I mentioned above I really liked that with Trees for Life you could set up a grove of trees- whether that was for a couple, family, memorial, or corporate. Here is the blurb from their website… ‘Your grove of trees will be planted by Trees for Life to create a beautiful, wild forest. Bare hillsides will be transformed into healthy young woodlands, rich in wildlife and protected for future generations. You’ll receive an online grove webpage where friends and family can add trees and dedications of their own.’
Our personal grove’s name is ‘The Ellison Family Grove.’ You get to name it! Whenever we donate it will go towards helping the Caledonian Forest. It’s an important ecosystem and they are doing three main things- Working to naturally regenerate the existing trees, Planting new, native trees, and Removing non native trees and invasive shrubs to give the original ones chance to thrive. It also helps the wildlife- there’s red squirrels there!
We can donate to our grove as little or as often as we like, and best still family and friends can also donate too, I thought it would be good for when we don’t need Christmas or Birthday presents. It cost us £50 to set up our grove page, then each additional tree will cost us £6. Realistically we aren’t going to be able to completely offset our carbon footprint, however we can do as much as we can and I feel like this is the first step to trying to educate ourselves further. We will definitely be at the very least offsetting mine and Jon’s carbon footprint from the flights we take going forward.
It also means we can teach our children about the importance of looking after the environment for themselves and future generations, as well as also teaching them about their privilege and the fact that they are in an exceptionally fortunate position to be able to travel. We won’t be able to travel forever, but while we are in a position to do so, we just want to do what we can to give back in any way possible.
NB: As mentioned at the start this post is in no way sponsored, I just thought it would be nice to share in case it is something you are interested in learning more about too. I don’t claim to be an expert, we are just exploring ways in which we can help give something back. I would love to know if you have any tips or thoughts.
Orlando is one of our favourite places in the entire world and I can pretty much guarantee that you will never run out of things to do there. However it is crazy and hectic, and perhaps one day you might fancy exploring a little further afield. After all Orlando is in the perfect position to explore other parts of Florida, and it definitely doesn’t hurt to escape the theme parks for the day.
We are big fans of going off the beaten track when we travel, of exploring places that might not be the first place that tourists think about on their trip. When we found out about De Leon Springs State Park on the Visit Orlando website, we just knew that we would have to make a trip there.
De Leon Springs State Park is just over an hour away from Orlando itself and is the perfect place to spend a sunny day. There are loads of things to do there, including hiking, swimming, boat tours, snorkelling, a kids playground, a nature trail and fishing- or you can just grab a picnic and sit and watch the world go by. It is peaceful and quiet and seems almost a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of Orlando and its fun.
There is also a very well regarded restaurant in the heart of the park- The Sugar Mill Restaurant.This was probably one of our favourite meals that we had while we were in Florida. Open for breakfast and lunch, the pancakes are pretty famous around these parts- you get a delicious pancake mix, a load of toppings, and then you cook them on your own griddle in the middle of your table. I can’t even begin to explain how tasty they were, and the fact that you cook them yourselves made it even more fun- our girls absolutely loved pouring the mix on the griddle and tending to their pancakes- then loading them up with chocolate chips, apple segments and banana. It is making me hungry just thinking about it, damn the fact it is a nine hour flight away.
Typically on the day we visited De Leon Springs State Park it was the only day of rain our entire trip. And when I say rain, it was absolutely pouring down, to the point that on the way we thought about turning around. However we were determined not to let the rain spoil our fun, and after enjoying a delicious pancake breakfast we decided that the only thing to do was swim in the heavy rain- after all you get wet anyway.
I am not exaggerating when I say this was probably one of the most magical experiences of my entire life.
Standing in the freezing cold, jumping into this (safe- no alligators as the natural spring pool is separate from the main water) beautiful pool in the middle of the Floridian swamp land, was up there with one of the most fun things we have ever done. Our girls are such daredevils and jumped straight in with no fear- it was so cold but such a fun experience and one I will remember forever.
We didn’t end up going for a walk or doing any of the other activities De Leon Springs State Park has to offer, but if we are ever lucky enough to go back to Orlando it is somewhere we will definitely be going back to next time. I highly recommend a trip there if you fancy getting out of Orlando for a bit.
The Sugar MilL Restaurant, where you cook pancakes on a griddle in front of you was so much fun and one of the tastiest meals we had on our holiday to Orlando. These two never fail to impress me with how much they love to have adventures.
You can’t see the rain too well here in these photos but it was absolutely chucking it down.
NB: Thanks to Visit Orlando for working with us on planning our holiday to Orlando, we have a great relationship with them from over the years. All words, photos, videos and opinions are entirely my own and they haven’t asked me to write about anything- all content has been decided by me. You can follow Visit Orlando over on twitter, instagram and Facebook, plus download their amazing app to help you plan your trip here.
I’ve been doing a little bit of an ongoing series on my blog over the last few years that we have been going to Orlando and I am back now with Part Four. I think when people think of Orlando they automatically think of Disney World and Universal, and with good reason- they are such a huge part of the city and what it is has to offer. But Orlando has so much more than that. We are the hugest Disney fans, we love Universal, but we couldn’t go to Orlando and do just those parks for the week. We like to find the other things to do, the ones that perhaps you don’t know as much about.
To start off with if you want to read my previous posts in this series you can find them here-
So today I am back with Part Four! I think we could go to Orlando every single year for the rest of our lives and still not get around all there this is to do there. But here are a few things that we got up to on our recent trip that are well worth a visit.
De Leon Springs State Park
De Leon Springs State Park is about an hour away from Orlando but it is definitely worth the trip if you want to get away from the craziness of Orlando and its theme parks. We originally found out about De Leon Springs from the Visit Orlando website, and as we are big fans of exploring and not just staying in one place the whole time, we decided to give it a go.
De Leon Springs has lots of activities to keep you entertained for the day. There’s a 50 minute boat tour where you can go through the State Park and then also the Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge, there’s miles of hiking, kayaking, a kids playground, picnic areas and a nature trail. But most people come for the swimming and the pancakes!
De Leon Springs has a large outdoor pool which is just perfect for a dip. The day we went typically it was the first drop of rain we had experienced all holiday. On the way in the car we were tempted to turn around, but in the end decided we would just go for some of these well renowned pancakes. In the end we decided that we would just go for it and swim in the rain. We were the only ones in the pool (bar a hardcore elderly gentleman) and it was one of the best experiences I have had- swimming in the rain in the great outdoors with my little people. It was just so much fun.
A lot of people also head to De Leon Springs for the pancakes. There is an incredibly unique restaurant there called the Sugar Mill Restaurant which was one of the highlights of our trip, and judging by just how busy it was it seems that a lot of other people come here for this restaurant too. You are given a pancake mix and various different toppings and you can cook pancakes on a griddle in front of you, it was so much fun and the children loved it (more importantly the pancakes were delicious!).
I definitely recommend a trip here if you fancy escaping Orlando for a little while and seeing what other parts of Florida have to offer.
I should probably start by saying that I wasn’t sure how much we were all going to get from Madam Tussauds before we visited. I had been to the London one many years ago (it could have changed now to be fair) and while it was good fun, I felt there were better things we could have spent our money on. However we were kindly given tickets to visit the Orlando one so we thought we may as well give it a go. Our children were 7, 5 and 2 at the time of visiting and we weren’t sure how much they would get from it, as of course they don’t necessarily know the people featured.
However my initial assumptions couldn’t have been more wrong. We all had a fantastic experience at Madam Tussauds Orlando, in fact I would probably go as far as to say that it was one of the favourite moments of our trip for my five year old daughter. Not only did they recognise a fair few of the wax work celebrities, it was also incredibly interactive. There are lots of different photo props you can use, or outfits you can try on, and we had such good fun walking around and getting immersed in the experience. It was lots of fun and I definitely recommend a trip here.
Also I mentioned ICON Orlando back in the first post I did, but it’s a great place to hang out, have some food (there’s over 40 different food places) and spend the day.
Gatorland was a first for us on our recent visit to Orlando and it was one we would definitely repeat again should we ever be lucky enough to go back. Gatorland is dubbed ‘The Alligator Capital of the World’ and it’s easy to see why- there are alligators everywhere. No trip to Orlando is complete without learning a little more about the most famous Florida residents. Gatorland has hundreds of alligators and crocodiles, from tiny babies up to 14 foot monsters. But it is more than just a Gator Park, it has animal shows, other species to see, it’s Stompin Gator Off-Road Adventure and it’s Screaming Gator Zip Line.
Unfortunately when we went I wasn’t feeling too well so I don’t feel we made the most of our day, but we still had a great time. Our favourite part was definitely the zip line- you fly over 1200 feet of ziplines above alligators swimming around in the water below you. Even my five year old had a go and I couldn’t believe how brave she was. It was so much fun and I would love to do it again.
I think you could plan to spend a whole day at Gatorland if you took it easy and spent a lot of time wandering around/having a break for lunch etc. But also you can equally go and see most of what you need to see in a few hours. We loved it and would definitely recommend a visit. You wouldn’t believe it but alligators are actually incredibly interesting to learn more about.
I can’t believe it. I cannot believe that 2018 is behind us and today is the 1st January 2019.
We had a lovely low key Christmas and New Year full of quiet moments, family time and lots and lots of food. We don’t tend to do a lot for Christmas and that’s the way I like it really, although it somehow manages to be both manic and quiet at the same time. For the first year ever this year we woke up in our own beds on Christmas Day- we normally go over to sleep at my Mum’s on Christmas Eve even though she only lives down the road, but this year we decided it would be less hectic to wake up in our own house. It was lovely, mainly for the fact it was a lot calmer, so I think that we will probably continue to do that in years to come.
Maddie turned 8 on Christmas Eve and we had a lovely day celebrating her. We went to see Father Christmas at the Garden Centre in the morning, something which has become an annual tradition of ours, and we were met there for breakfast by some of our family and friends. Then we went for lunch with my sister and her boyfriend, before coming home to chill out for a bit, and then going over to our annual Christmas Eve/Birthday Party at their godmother’s house. Christmas Day was spent at my Grandmas for Christmas Lunch, then the following few days we hosted Jon’s family at ours. All in all it was a lovely Christmas, topped off by a relaxing but fun New Years Eve night at home with my sister and her boyfriend.
And now it is 2019. I felt it was only right to do a little post on here to say hello to the new year and to acknowledge the arrival of a new one. 2018 was a wonderful year for us, I made a little video of our 2018 highlights over on You Tube if you would like to watch it. It made me cry while I was editing it and Jon even shed a little tear when I played it to him, there’s nothing more bittersweet than seeing your children grow so quickly.
I also have a horrendous track record of making goals that I don’t keep, but I can’t pass up the opportunity to at least try and make small changes to make myself feel better. It’s the usual type of ones I inevitably make every year, like trying to eat better, drink more water and get a better balance when it comes to my time. Only time will tell whether I keep them up, but I am feeling determined and positive.
I always like to make some online goals when it comes to my work on here. I am so incredibly fortunate and lucky to be able to do ‘this’ as a job, I would never ever have dreamed nearly eight years ago that this would happen. It certainly won’t last forever, but while it does I am enjoying every minute, and I just like to set myself little targets to help motivate myself. Again these are the usual, hitting certain targets on You Tube and instagram (as while numbers aren’t important and engagement and the way you make people feel is more so, numbers I guess do matter when it comes to doing this). Also giving myself set hours to be online, so I am not doing it until midnight every evening- which is definitely not healthy.
I said this very same thing last year and I didn’t stick to it as much as I would like to, but this year I really want to concentrate on this blog. This was my first baby (after my proper first baby) and this space was what made me fall in love with the online world. I’ve been writing it for almost eight years now, and over that time things have dramatically changed. People don’t necessarily go to blogs like they did before, not when they can easily and readily digest your content and keep up with your life on platforms like instagram and even You Tube. As a result I have concentrated more on them, because of course I am going to concentrate on the things that people seem to look at more.
At the same time though I have said this many times before, but having a blog is the only thing that is yours. Instagram could drastically change it’s interface tomorrow, or You Tube could shut down next year (unlikely obviously but you get my drift) and all your hard work could essentially be lost. A blog is the only thing that you control completely and that you know isn’t going to succumb to any changes. I really want to concentrate more on here, but it is hard to fit it all in as we only have limited hours in the day.
The other thing is I still love writing. I love taking photos. They were my passions well before videos. I am brimming with ideas for my blog, I just need to somehow manage my time more so I can do it. I said it last year, but this year I really am going to try. Even if it is just two or three posts a month, I really want to write on here more. I am determined to, I have a whole list of ideas in my note book of posts I want to write.
Also I really want to have a blog refresh, I have only had this recent design a year (it was a year ago almost to the day that I changed it), but in all honesty it really isn’t as functional as I want it to be. I like the way it looks, but it isn’t particularly user friendly. Jon is going to find the time to slowly build me a blog that I love and does all the things I want it to- but I don’t want to rush into it this time, I will be taking my time and perfecting a perfect design.
And that’s it really. Just some simple goals and ideas, and some good intentions for 2019. Only time will tell if I keep to them, but I would like to start off as organised and as productive as I can. We started the year off by going to our favourite pink wall for some photos- I think this might become a yearly tradition as you can really see how much they are growing up.
HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL. MAY 2019 BE EVERYTHING YOU HOPE FOR AND MORE. XX
Like many families, Christmas is our favourite time of the year. There is absolutely nothing better than the countdown to Christmas and experiencing it through the eyes of your children. We have a fair few Christmas traditions that we love to do with the kids throughout December, ranging from having our annual festive day and putting up the Christmas tree, to watching festive films all snuggled up with the tree lights twinkling in the background.
When I was young there were always two things that would make me feel like Christmas was on its way. The first was heading off for a drive with my Dad to see if we could spot the best Christmas lights (a tradition that we now do with our little ones), I still remember driving around our neighbourhood with him, listening to festive tunes and shouting in excitement when we saw a house that was particularly ‘dressed up’. The other was when you heard the Coca-Cola advert for the first time. Seeing the red truck and hearing the jingly music always made me feel like it was the start of the countdown to the best time of the year.
We were really excited the other day to hear that the iconic Coca-Cola truck was on tour and heading to a town relatively near us. If you are a regular reader of my blog you will know that over the last few months we have been working with Coca-Cola Great Britain as part of their Parent Panel, where we are learning more about recycling and their sustainability mission, to achieve a #WorldWithoutWaste. I have felt so honoured to have been working with them as Coca-Cola is one of my favourite brands (and Diet Coke is ALWAYS my drink of choice), so what better way to end the year than a trip to see one this iconic festive treat in the flesh?
So, one cold and rainy Wednesday evening we headed off wrapped up warm in coats and hats, ready to feel truly Christmassy….
We had such a lovely time visiting the Coca-Cola truck. The girls were in their element looking at all the pretty lights and they especially enjoyed the fake snow – with that and the Christmas songs playing in the background it felt truly magical. Look at the happy smiles on their little faces
It was such a nice evening and best of all it didn’t cost a penny- it was a nice, fun family activity that we all really enjoyed. The Coca-Cola truck is going to be visiting a total of 24 cities up and down the country in total- thought December – while you are there seeing the iconic truck up close, you can explore Coca-Cola’s winter wonderland, take a festive selfie and enjoy a small can of your favourite drink – whether it be Coca-Cola original taste, Coca-Cola zero sugar or Diet Coke.
Jon and I got to have a free drink as well, (I had a Diet Coke of course and Jon had a Coca-Cola zero sugar), and I was impressed to see that Coca-Cola was continuing it’s #WorldWithoutWaste messaging and mission by having various recycling points throughout the truck area. I also learnt that Coca-Cola is working closely with local councils and waste collection agencies to coordinate litter collection at every location, to ensure as many cans are collected and recycled as possible.
Did you know that Coca-Cola’s aluminium cans contain around 42 percent recycled aluminium and are 100% recyclable? Coca-Cola is continuing to work to recover all its packaging in the UK so that none of it ends up as litter in our streets or oceans. This forms a key part of its global ambition to achieve a #WorldWithoutWaste – something we have been trying to achieve as a family too.
We had such a lovely festive evening and a great time visiting the truck – I loved getting to see something, which has been very much a part of my Christmas countdown since I was a little girl. I would definitely recommend a visit if you can squeeze one in, it definitely made me feel all warm and festive inside. Right at the start of the project I said that while we do our bit in terms of recycling, we certainly could do more, and I really wanted to educate myself and our children more about the importance of recycling. So far, this project has really opened my eyes as to how much can be recycled. Doing this partnership with Coca-Cola Great Britain has given me a desire to really think about what we are doing as a family in terms of recycling and we have already made a fair few changes in our approaches to recycling as a family. It’s been an honour to work with one of my all-time favourite brands, while also learning more in the process.
Thanks so much to Coca-Cola for working with us over the last few months, it really has been an honour.
NB: I am working on a paid partnership with Coca-Cola Great Britain but all words, opinions and content are entirely my own.
There’s two things that really help my children thrive. Actually there’s many, but for the purposes of this blog post I want to talk about two things that they really respond well to. Firstly it’s getting out and about and being active. I guess like any children my children are happiest if they are outdoors and running about. I like to think of ourselves as an active family (I mean of course I like sitting on the sofa with a bar of chocolate too) but we are always trying to get out and about, whether that’s for a walk, or a trip to soft play, or out to do some sort of sport. Maddie plays football five times a week, which is just a little crazy, and even then when she comes home both her and Lottie want to get outside and play yet more football. They just love to be outdoors, or charging about inside creating imaginative games.
Secondly of course they respond well to praise. They love to be praised, they love to be told they are doing a good job, they whole faces light up when you congratulate them or praise them, and they love anything that means they might get a reward at the end of it- whether the reward is your admiration or something else. Things like reward charts work really well with us because they love to feel like they are achieving something and working towards a long term goal.
You might have seen if you are a long term reader of my blog, or follower on my social media, that last year we worked on a campaign with Garmin to promote their Vivofit Jr. 2 activity watches. (Here is the blog post from last year) When I read the brief and the story behind the watches and what they did, I knew that they would be something that my girls really liked, but in all fairness I had no idea just how much they would love them. They have been using the watches for an entire year now, bar unfortunately Maddie lost hers on holiday a couple of months ago (and I promised I would buy her a new one for Christmas) and I am going to go as far as to say they are one of the best things we have ever bought or been given for the children.
Maddie and Lottie wore them pretty much every single day for an entire year. In fact I had a look back at my instagram photos as I wanted to find a specific picture, and they are wearing them in so many of my instagram photos. They were allowed to wear them for school (of course I don’t know about all schools but they are allowed to at ours) so much so that a few of their friends have also been given one for birthday’s or christmas. One of the lovely ladies in the school office even has a competition with Lottie every day to see who has done the most steps (as she has an adults activity tracker).
So when Garmin got in touch with us again to see if we wanted to try their new watch designs, of course we jumped at the chance. They have two new designs out, Disney Princesses and Spider-man. Of course I knew both the girls would want Spider-man so we got one in red and one in black.
WHAT DOES THE GARMIN VIVOFIT JR.2 DO?
-Tracks and monitors activity
The one thing that I was really surprised about when we first got them was just how much the activity trackers actually do. First and foremost of course they are an activity tracker, so they track your children’s steps and active minutes per day. The Vivofit Jr. 2 has a goal activity time of 60 minutes per day, but of course most children will go over this as even at school they run around so much. When they do go over their goal time, the watch will beep to let them know. If they do go over this they can unlock another level of their adventure (you don’t have to use the app though if you would rather just track their steps via the watch itself). Each watch has its own story and adventure (e.g a Spider-man adventure) and as they progress with their activity goals they get to unlock step icons, badges, play little games etc and read a bit more of the story each day. Of course the whole point of this is finding ways to keep your children engaged and motivated to keep active. It’s doing this on multiple levels, with varying incentives.
-Set each other activity based challenges
It’s also got other great features based around the activity element of the watch, such as parents can set challenges that the whole family can take part it. Children can do that too via their bands, setting up “Toe-to-Toe Challenges” that allow their bands to sync with friends who also have the Vivofit Jr. 2, keeping everyone in sync and competing against each other. The girls love this element of it. They also love the fact there is a family leaderboard, so they can keep a track of who is getting the most steps each day.
-Reward and coin based system
One of my most favourite parts about the watch is the rewards and coins element of it. This is actually even more handy to us than the steps and it is one that the girls love the most too. The Vivofit Jr. 2 has a rewards based system so as a parent you can input what ‘chores’ you would like to be completed each day, weekly or just ad hoc. You can then set how many coins completing the task is worth e.g if you make your bed in the morning that is worth 2 coins. Then finally you can set up rewards that if they get a certain amount of coins they can redeem them for that reward.
So for example in the case of my girls some of their tasks/chores are- making their bed, putting their school uniforms on without being asked, good table manners, tidying their playroom, putting their clothes away and brushing their teeth well. Some of the rewards we have are if they get 100 coins they get a pack of football cards, if they get 550 coins we will take them to the ice cream shop near us, if they get 90 coins they can watch the iPad in bed for half an hour etc.
You can also set reminders so the bands will ring and vibrate and remind them of what needs doing. Once they have completed the task you can then manually give them a coin via the app, but it will go off on the watch and make a noise which the girls just love. As I mentioned right at the start of this blog post, I find that my children really thrive on anything which rewards them for their behaviour. They find it really motivating and they really respond well to things like this. They love the rewards based element on the Garmin and I really do too, it is easily one of favourite parts, and they are always really eager to try and reach their different rewards. Plus they just generally love being able to receive coins etc.
You can also track their sleep and sleep patterns using the Vivofit Jr.2- this in all honesty isn’t something we use that frequently as my girls tend to sleep quite well, but it is still a nice option to have on there.
-You don’t have to charge it up
One huge positive of the watch for me is that you don’t have to charge it up. As much as you think it is simple, you charge up everything else, I just know that when it comes to the children we would end up not charging them as much as we should and therefore there would be periods where they weren’t wearing them. The Vivofit lasts for approximately a year before you will then need to replace the battery.
You can also set reminders on the watch as to when it is time to do your tasks e.g brush your teeth, turn the bedroom light out etc. We don’t tend to use those as our routine changes daily, however one feature we use a lot is the timer function. For example you can set a timer for two minutes to make sure that they brush their teeth for that long etc.
We honestly cannot rave about the Vivofit Jr.2 enough. Our girls genuinely love them and they are something which they pretty much wear 99% of the time. Yes sometimes we don’t always remember to do the activities, or give them a coin, but they have become a huge part of our routine. Every night without fail the girls check their steps and also of course they are great as a watch (except it means Maddie comes in at 6.30am on the dot every morning) and for doing the thing that watches are supposed to do- tell the time!
We absolutely love them and thank you so much to working with Garmin for working with us on this again- we love to shout about brands we love.
NB We are working with Garmin on this campaign but all words and opinions are entirely my own.